ATLANTA — County music legend and Newnan native Alan Jackson has revealed that he was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve condition more than a year ago.
Jackson, 62, talked about the disease Tuesday morning in an interview with ”The Today Show.” He said he was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which makes it more difficult for him to walk normally.
“It’s genetic that I inherited from my daddy… There’s no cure for it, but it’s been affecting me for years. And it’s getting more and more obvious. And I know I’m stumbling around on stage. And now I’m having a little trouble balancing, even in front of the microphone, and so I just feel very uncomfortable,” Jackson said.
[PHOTOS: Alan Jackson through the years]
CMT is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
“Progressive muscle weakness typically becomes noticeable in adolescence or early adulthood, but the onset of disease can occur at any age. Because longer nerves are affected first, symptoms usually begin in the feet and lower legs and then can affect the fingers, hands, and arms. Most individuals with CMT have some amount of physical disability, although some people may never know they have the disease,” the organization said on its website.
“It’s not going to kill me. It’s not deadly,” Jackson said. “But it’s related (to) muscular dystrophy and Parkinson’s disease.”
He said it doesn’t mean an end to performing either.
“I’m not saying I won’t be able to tour,” he said. “I’ll try to do as much as I can.”
One of the last concerts Jackson held here in Georgia was for his hometown of Newnan, to help with recovery efforts after the city was devastated by an EF-4 tornado in March.
At its widest, the tornado was more than a mile wide as it moved through downtown Newnan. Its maximum wind speed was 170 mph.
Proceeds from the “Where I Come From: Tornado Benefit” concert went to the Coweta Community Foundation, which handled the charitable efforts to help Newnan residents whose lives were disrupted by storms.
Jackson told “The Today Show” that he’s happy that he’s now at a point in his career where he can focus on making only the music he wants to make.
“I feel a little more freedom now, because I’m not trying to worry about getting on the radio and fitting into their limitations,” Jackson said. “I’ve always believed that the music is the most important thing. The songs. And I guess that’s what I’d like to (leave) if I had a legacy.”
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